CNN Poll: 88% say Rep. Stark should not apologize
David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Published: Friday October 19, 2007
Print This  Email This

CNN is reporting that 88% of those voting in their Friday morning online poll say there is no reason Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) should apologize for remarks blasting President Bush on the floor of the House of Representatives.

In the course of debate on expanding SCHIP funding, Stark told Congressional Republicans (video, story), "You don't have money to fund the war or children. But you're going to spend it to blow up innocent people, if we could get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their head's blow off for the president's amusement."

House Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner quickly issued a statement demanding a retraction and apology, in which he said, "Our troops in Iraq are fighting against al-Qaeda and other radical jihadists hellbent on killing the people we are sent here to represent. Congressman Stark’s statement dishonors not only the Commander-in-Chief, but the thousands of courageous men and women of America’s armed forces who believe in their mission and are putting their lives on the line for our freedom and security."

There has predictably been support for Stark on the left, along with endorsements of Boehner's outrage on the right. A thread at the liberal Democratic Underground site asked members to "DU this CNN poll!" but also expressed amusement that the sentiment in favor of Stark was already running at 87% to 13%. One commenter suggested that "the poll has been Freeped, it was 89% before, now it's 87%," to which another replied "amazing what consitutes freeping these daze."

"Freeping" is a reference to the practice initiated at the conservative Free Republic message board some years ago of sending members to overwhelm online polls with indications of support for right-wing policies and politicians. Liberal sites like Democratic Underground and Daily Kos then began countering this strategy with similar exhortations of their own.

The lopsided result of the CNN poll is striking, especially since the mainstream consensus seems to be that even if Stark was just shooting his mouth off, as he has many times in the past, he may have crossed a line of bad taste in suggesting that the president actively enjoys seeing American soldiers' heads blown off.

For example, when Keith Olbermann indicated on his program that he felt there was "something refreshing about his at least refusal to back down," guest Jonathan Alter responded that Stark's comments were "silly and counterproductive, and the best thing for him to do would be to apologize and move on."

MSNBC's "First Read" blog eneumerated Stark's history of inflammatory remarks: "On another occasion he publicly questioned the provenance of J.C. Watts' offspring, comments that so enraged the former Oklahoma quarterback that he angrily marched up to Stark on the House floor and had to be restrained from beating the living daylights out of the 70-something liberal. Also, during a gun control debate some years back, Stark suggested that opponents of gun control were phallically challenged. And not too long ago, he called a GOP opponent on the Ways and Means committee a 'fruitcake' during committee proceedings."

The following video is from CNN's American Morning, broadcast on October 19, 2007.